Is Man Utd too big a club to manage?
Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal is reportedly a leading candidate to succeed David Moyes as Manchester United manager.
April 23rd, 2014
12:06 PM ET

Is Man Utd too big a club to manage?

When former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson steps up to the lectern to deliver the first of his Harvard Business School lectures in May, he won’t be short of material.

He knows all about the art of building winning teams, how to deal with the pressure of the media and, of course, the secrets of time management, more commonly known in football circles as "Fergie Time."

Ferguson retired last May after claiming a 13th English Premier League title with United - the 49th and final trophy of an illustrious 39-year career in football management.

It’s a record of unparalleled achievement, but barely a year after the Scot stepped down it appears there is one gaping hole in the Ferguson management repertoire - successful succession planning. FULL POST

Hillsborough disaster: 25th anniversary
April 14th, 2014
02:22 PM ET

Will Hillsborough scars ever heal?

For British football fans in the spring of 1989, it was our JFK moment.

Every one of us remembers exactly where we were and what we were doing on April 15, when we learned that over 90 Liverpool supporters had been crushed to death at an FA Cup semifinal. Along with many others across the country, I was listening to the game on the radio, quickly switching on the television to watch a disaster unfold in front of me.

This was a time before the Premier League, before the massive investment in all-seater stadia; football was very different back then.

Anyone who'd stood on a terrace and been herded like cattle into and out of a stadium could relate to what those fans must have gone through. Most of the time, standing behind the goal at a first division game was a lot of fun, the crowd ebbed and flowed with the action on the field, a crowd that was a vibrant, living entity and you were thrilled to be a part of it. FULL POST

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Can Man Utd dare to dream ahead of Bayern Munich tie?
Living on a prayer? David Moyes Man Utd are underdogs against the mighty Bayern Munich. (Getty Images)
April 7th, 2014
11:34 AM ET

Can Man Utd dare to dream ahead of Bayern Munich tie?

Sitting in block 225 of the South Stand at Old Trafford last Tuesday, just to the right of the bench and beneath the press box, my eyes were drawn to the banner that proudly hangs on the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand.

It reads “The Impossible Dream, Made Possible”. It’s a banner paying tribute to the former Manchester United manager and the ridiculous number of trophies he helped bring to the club - most notably 13 English Premier League titles and two European Champions League triumphs.

But seeing that banner while watching the post-Ferguson United take on the might of European champions Bayern Munich in a Champions League quarterfinal first leg – it made me chuckle. FULL POST

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Can football change the world in its fight against poverty?
Football great Zinedine Zidane took part in the annual Match against Poverty.
March 5th, 2014
01:47 PM ET

Can football change the world in its fight against poverty?

By Tom McGowan

A band of heroes unite to change the lives of those in need, to feed the starving and house the homeless.

This is the rationale behind a United Nations Development Program (UNDP) initiative which it hopes will help halve world poverty by 2015.

Arguably the UN faces an uphill struggle.

A recent Oxfam report estimated that the world's richest 85 people share a combined wealth of $1.67 trillion, as much as the poorest 3.5 billion of the world's population.

The World Bank's definition of poverty is based on an income of less than $2 a day, or a calorie intake of less than 2100 calories.

Football stars Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane are the faces of the Match Against Poverty, launched in 2003 and now an annual event aimed at raising funds for the impoverished.

"It's the world's most accessible and equal sport. You can even make your own football," Petra Lantz, director of the UNDP representation office in Geneva, told CNN.

"I've seen that with kids who use paper and string, then they have a football and they pretend that they're Ronaldo or Zidane.

"If you want to reach these kids who are no longer in school, sport is an excellent activity. Football is a sport that is accessible even for those who are poor."

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Is Manchester United in meltdown?
Manchester United have lost 11 times under manager David Moyes this season.
February 26th, 2014
01:08 PM ET

Is Manchester United in meltdown?

The jokes came thick and fast on Twitter after Manchester United’s 2-0 first leg Champions League defeat by Olympiakos in Athens: “The greatest Hellenic triumph since George Michael’s Careless Whisper.”

Former footballers were equally unforgiving: "MUFC have had the odd bad day over the years, but I cannot recall such an abject, hopeless, forlorn performance,” tweeted ex-England international Gary Lineker. “And against such mediocrity."

Then there were the photoshopped pictures of Manchester United’s tactical shape joined together by a thick red line spelling out “LOL.”

Wednesday’s media headlines tightened the tourniquet.

Tabloid newspaper the Sun went for full punning scorn: “Pitta-ful Utd in Greek tragedy as fans demand … MOUSACKA MOYES.”

FULL POST

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Barca's return to Manchester
Man City's status as Champions League pretenders was a world away when Barcelona last came calling in 2003.
February 17th, 2014
06:00 PM ET

Barca's return to Manchester

The last time Manchester City played Barcelona, I got Shaun Goater to sign the match program. It was ten seasons ago and Ronaldinho and co. had rolled into town for the commemorative opening match at City’s new home, The City of Manchester Stadium.

Goater, the Bermudan striker, had left City for Reading at the end of the previous season after scoring 103 goals in 212 appearances during five years at the club. He’d arrived on a £400,000 transfer from Bristol City and achieved lifelong cult status with City fans for his never-say-die, bundle-it-in, keep-on-fighting attitude through the yoyo years.

The fans’ anthem, to the tune of the Welsh hymn Bread of Heaven, summed up everything about City in the managerial years of Joe Royle and Kevin Keegan: a bit daft but endearing and full of passion and ironic self-belief: "Feed the goat, feed the goat, feed the goat and he will score." FULL POST

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How not to appoint a football manager
David Moyes has had a challenging start to his career as Manchester United manager.
January 23rd, 2014
12:30 PM ET

How not to appoint a football manager

For most job vacancies, a role is advertised, interested parties apply, interviews are held and an appointment is made.

It's a method Manchester United is currently using to fill a number of roles, such as a relationship manager and staffing manager, with the help of a recruitment website that describes itself as “executive career service for high caliber professionals.”

But the process of appointing a football manager remains rather ad hoc, none more so than in the case of David Moyes, who has had –- as baptisms of fire go - quite a grilling since succeeding Alex Ferguson at the helm of one of the world's biggest clubs.

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Ballon d'Or awards: What's the point?
Cristiano Ronaldo was named world player of the year for the second time, following his initial 2008 success.
January 13th, 2014
07:27 PM ET

Ballon d'Or awards: What's the point?

By James Masters

The two greatest players in a generation – a host of conspiracy theories and an award ceremony which will lead to yet more debate over which man really rules the world.

As the football world converged on the Swiss city of Zurich on Monday, the cynical could be excused for rolling their eyes at another mind-numbingly dull FIFA ceremony – sorry “gala” - which appeared to last half a lifetime.

The awkward interviews, the pre-rehearsed throwaway lines and the pictures of delegates fighting furiously to stay awake are all part of the production. FULL POST

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'I'm gay'
January 10th, 2014
01:38 PM ET

Does football take homophobia seriously?

The chanting in the stand starts: “Does your boyfriend know you’re here?”

There are a few laughs, not much else. It’s all been heard before.

“Stand up, ‘cos you can’t sit down.”

Yes, we’ve heard that one too. FULL POST

Time to act on football's floppers?
Oscar's dive against Southampton prompted widespread criticism in the British media.
January 3rd, 2014
04:40 PM ET

Time to act on football's floppers?

It’s the bugbear of every football fan.

A player hits the turf after a collision with an opponent, rolling around in apparent agony before the referee brings the game to a halt.

The stricken “victim” is eventually led from the field, either limping alongside his team’s physio or lying prostrate on a stretcher.

When the player leaves the pitch and the action eventually resumes, something miraculous happens. FULL POST

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